…to make a difference in a small way! To contribute our very own “khaaricha waata” – a squirrel’s share as the saying goes in Marathi based on the legend of how a tiny squirrel helped to build the ‘Ram Setu’ by shaking her sand coated body on it. The sand filled the cracks between the big boulders placed by Hanuman and the monkey brigade, thus making it stronger.
Now on the occasion of the upcoming Earth Hour , I am happy to share what I do, and what I dont do yet, but have a good mind to do going forward. We dont need an hour. We need an ‘Earth Life’. Here is to small lifestyle changes that will make a big difference.
1. Allergic to printing!
I have a paperless office and I do not take printouts until it is a super duper emergency of cataclysmic proportions. I tell folks to do the same! Next time you take a print out, think if you really need it. If you do, and it is a big necessity, make sure you print on both sides.
2. Newspaper giftwraps are trendy!
Oh yes they are super cool and can add a personal touch. Wrap your gifts in the newspaper. Then ask your kids to paint or decorate. Now you have a fantastic gift wrap. It will make a considerable difference.
We live in a gated community of flats which has many buildings, with many families. There are atleast 40-50 kids in a building. Another 30 to 40 odd kids in a child’s class. You do the math. There are too many birthday parties to attend in a given week, month and year. Add to that other occasions where adults are invited – weddings, anniversaries, housewarming and so on.
With news papers, you dont need to buy more gift wrapping paper and you recycle your ‘raddi’ in a creative way. Plus – its a good way to keep kids busy and off TV.
Checkout our home-made Christmas tree from last year with the newspaper wrapped gifts. Tree was assembled from discarded and broken branches of christmas trees outside the mall after previous year’s christmas sale, waste paper basket, ‘raddi’ newspapers, and torn wrapping papers from gifts. What a fun project this was!
3. Cloth bags? Of course! But how to solve the trash problem?
Carrying cloth bags is an awesome idea to help reduce consumption of plastic bags. The kinds that can be folded are cool. We can keep them handy in the car, or in the purse or the dicky of your two wheeler. But I am guilty of not being plastic bag less. Want to change that now.
Mostly I use the plastic bags that come from groceries to take out the trash. Since I live in a flat in a building complex, my maid takes out the trash bag every day. I do not buy seperate trash bags, but recycle the ones that come home. There needs to be an easy alternative so that plastic bags can be replaced.
And I discovered this video. Check it out. This will be my latest experiment! The newspaper bags for kitchen trashcan. We can slowly move to the bigger bins too.
Before the plastic bags era, our local kirana walah used to pack kilos and kilos of rice, sugar, anything, and everything, in newspapers. Those babies are stronger than you think! Get the kids to make some bags when you need to break their TV watching and get them to do something creative. Better still, train your maid to do it! Of course cannot put wet waste directly into it.
We can also re-use cereal boxes, shoe boxes or any other packaging material as trash holders from time to time.
But how to get rid of the wet waste?
4. Daily Dump!
My dear creative cousin took this up and got many kudos for it. This is a simple way to turn your everyday organic waste from the kitchen into compost that you can use for your garden or potted plants. She has put up these beautiful earthen pots in her apartment balcony, and dumps the fruit and vegetable peels, perishing food, and any other organic waste coming out of the kitchen in them.
The earthen pots can stay in your garden if you have a house, or in the apartment balcony. They surely look nice too. I have to explore and see how I can get one of these beautiful earthen pots along with its inhabitants in my house now. Check out this website www.dailydump.organd you can get one too. She says its very easy to set up and maintain.
5. Green Festivals
We organized a “Make your own Ganesha” workshop in our complex last year, and it was a runaway hit! We made Ganesh idols out of mud and taught kids, moms and dads how to make them. So many homes in our community had their very own hand made and eco friendly Ganpati Bappas instead of the plaster of paris idols usually bought.
The Youth for Seva NGO made the clay available at many places here in the city. We plan to do that in a big way this year too! Its very very easy to make, and can be a fantastic event for a community of residents to come together. It is a wonderful opportunity to educate and encourage children and adults to take small steps towards a greener and a more creative lifestyle.
6. Wealth out of Waste (WOW!)
Some environment enthusiasts in our apartment complex started a wonderful initiative. That of providing the residents an easy way to re-cycle the solid dry waste and e-waste. We tied up with ITC-WOW –www.itcgreenpapers.com and they come to our complex every Sunday to pickup anything that can be recycled. Boxes, glass,cans, and even computers and electronic stuff that you do not want anymore. They even have door to door pickup.
All you need is a group of likeminded people to come together and implement this in a residential community. It will automatically become a way of life.
We do not turn on the AC for 10 months out of the year. Of course the fact that we all step out of the house for work and school helps. I grew up without the AC, and sheets of khus or desert coolers were the norm. Though not anymore. 😦 But we consciously try and keep use of AC to a minimum. Saves energy as well as big bucks!
8. Its OK to Nag… the kids, the husband, the wife, the family members, the friends and the world to ensure they turn off the lights when not required, turn off the water faucets, turn off cars at traffic lights, and take the usual steps to conserve water and energy. Talk to everyone about recycling. Its important that children know. They will grow up to become scientists, policy makers, businessmen and innovators. What we teach them now, will influence how they create the tomorrow. So encourage them to participate, and you participate with them in community activities and NGOs in any way you can. A small contribution is still a contribution!